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Sunday, 9 September 2012

Whatever Happended To Mario Ančić?

A lot of people who follow professional tennis will remember the name of Mario Ančić.  The Croatian tennis player who it was thought was going to follow in the footsteps of Croatian Wimbledon champion and legend Goran Ivanišević and take over the reigns early in his promising career. Well, it seems he's really changed his course since being forced to an early retirement a few years ago due to health problems at the age of 26.  However, he's still doing not too shabby off the tennis court either.  (I personally also recently left some studies early to move back to my old stomping grounds on the other side of the country, and continue here instead, let's just say "Rodeo Clown" courses and "Fucko" classes in Calgary should be started up asap, in lots of places actually. snap snap)

Regarding this piece though, it should be interesting water cooler talk at whatever law firm or company he finally decides to work for.  Like how many lawyers out there can start off a conversation about the time they beat Federer on center court at Wimbledon?  Full story below......


Croatian Tennis Federation:

Former Tennis Star Makes a Mark at Columbia Law School

Mario Ancic, who reached No. 7 in the world rankings, is pursuing a master’s degree in law. Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Mario Ancic, once among the top tennis players in the world, is now pursuing a law degree at Columbia University in Manhattan.

Every fall, Columbia Law School admits a couple hundred students to its prestigious master’s program. This year’s crop includes a civil rights activist from Armenia, a terrorism-finance expert from Bangladesh and a Croatian lawyer with a win over Roger Federer.

Had things worked out differently, Mario Ancic, the Croatian lawyer, would have spent the past two weeks grinding it out on the hardcourts at the United States Open. Instead, he has been holed up in the Columbia law library, poring over his contracts casebook.

“I’m trying to be prepared for every class,” Ancic said. “The professors here use the Socratic method of teaching, so they can call on you at any time.”

As  a member of the 2005 Croatian Davis Cup winning team: Ivo Karlovic, Goran Ivanisevic, Captain Niki Pilic, Mario Ancic and Ivan Ljubicic.  Photographer: Paul Zimmer.

Not long ago, Ancic, 28, had different concerns. He was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2004. The next year, he became a hero in Croatia after helping the nation win the Davis Cup. With his 6-foot-5 frame and booming serve, Ancic achieved a peak ranking of No. 7 after reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the French Open in 2006.

“The future of tennis has arrived — and his name is Mario Ancic,” Boris Becker, the German champion, once said.

Born in the Adriatic coastal city of Split, Ancic (pronounced An-CHITCH) was the world’s top-ranked junior at 16. He burst onto the pro tour two years later, defeating Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon in 2002.

“This wasn’t the Roger Federer that we know today,” said Ancic, reluctantly discussing his famous victory. (Federer went on to win Wimbledon the next five times in a row and seven in all.)

But almost from the outset of his career, Ancic had to battle more than just his opponents. There were persistent shoulder problems and chronic back pain. A glandular fever sidelined him for the better part of two years. Doctors eventually diagnosed a severe strain of mononucleosis. The endless string of ailments forced Ancic to hang up his racket at 26.

“I had to retire early and that’s life,” he said. “You try to deal with it and fight through it, but at some point you need to turn the page and move on to something else.”

Footage from one his Wimbledon matches.

That something else was law. Raised in a family that emphasized education, Ancic enrolled at the University of Split while recovering from his injuries. After earning a doctorate in law and passing the local bar exam, he was hired as a junior lawyer at Savoric & Partners, one of Croatia’s top law firms.

Ancic decided to pursue a master’s degree in the United States after spending a few months on a research project at Harvard Law School. He was supervised by Peter A. Carfagna , an adjunct Harvard professor who was once the top lawyer at IMG, the sports management firm that represented Ancic. He presented a paper on the legal ramifications of doping in professional tennis that Carfagna said was of publishable quality.

“This might sound clichéd, but the way Mario approached his training as a professional tennis player is how he’s approaching his legal career,” Carfagna said. “He’s like a sponge, indefatigable, and intensely committed to be the best lawyer he can be.”

Ancic, who once resided in Monte Carlo, a European tax haven, now lives with a roommate in a small two-bedroom apartment on 127th Street. After completing the one-year Master of Laws program, he said, he might stay in New York and try to find a job at a big corporate firm before returning to Croatia. Sports law excites Ancic; he also has considered politics or becoming a judge.

He remains passionate about tennis and wants to stay connected to the sport. At Columbia, that will not be a problem: the university’s tennis team has already sniffed him out.

Howard Endelman, a former Columbia tennis star who is the associate men’s coach, said his players were salivating over Ancic’s surprise arrival on campus.

“Law school can be brutal,” said Endelman, a former lawyer himself. “That said, the prospect of Mario working out with our guys is very exciting.”

Ancic found it amusing that the United States Open was getting under way just as he arrived in New York. Last weekend, between study sessions, he went to Flushing Meadows to support his countryman Marin Cilic. He also stopped by the stadium to watch his old rival Federer.

“There are a bunch of guys like Roger who are older than me and still playing at a championship level,” Ancic said. “But everyone has their own story, and I’m really happy with mine.”

After winning the Davis Cup for Croatia in Bratislava, Slovakia in 2005

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